« AnteriorContinuar »
find less in it than they looked for, and the impatience of their being denied would be loosened and made slack: and when our wishings are no bigger than the thing deserves, and our usages of them according to our needs (which may be obtained by trying what they are, and what good they can do us), we shall find in all pleasures so little entertainment, that the vanity of the possession will soon reprove the violence of the appetite. And if this permission be in innocent instances, it may be of good use : but Solomon tried it in all things, taking his fill of all pleasures, and soon grew weary of them all. The same thing we may do by reason, which we do by experience, if either we will look upon pleasures, as we are sure they look, when they go off, after their enjoyment; or if we will credit the experience of those men, who have tasted them and loathed them.
5. Often consider and contemplate the joys of heaven, that, when they have filled thy desires which are the sails of the soul, thou mayest steer only thither, and never more look back to Sodom. And when thy soul dwells above, and looks down upon the pleasures of the world, they seem like things at distance, little and contemptible, and men running after the satisfaction of their sottish appetites seem foolish as fishes, thousands of them running after a rotten worm, that covers a deadly hook; or at the best but like children, with great noise pursuing a bubble rising from a iwalnut-shell, which ends sooner than the noise.
6. To this, the example of Christ and his apostles; of Moses, and all the wise men of all ages of the world, will much help; who, understanding how to distinguish good from evil, did choose a sad and melancholy way to felicity, rather than the broad, pleasant, and easy path, to folly and misery.
But this is but the general. Its first particular is temperance.
SECT. II. Of Temperance in Eating and Drinking. Sobriety is the bridle of the passions of desire y, and temperance is the bit and curb of that bridle, a restraint put . ν 'Εγκράτεια, από του εν κράτει έχειν την επιθυμίαν.
into a man's mouth, a moderate use of meat and drink, so as may best consist with our health, and may not hinder but help the works of the soul by its necessary supporting us, and ministering cheerfulness and refreshment.
Temperance consists in the actions of the soul principally : for it is a grace that chooses natural means in order to proper, and natural, and holy ends : it is exercised about eating and drinking, because they are necessary; but therefore it permits the use of them, only as they minister to lawful ends; it does not eat and drink for pleasure, but for need, and for refreshment, which is a part or a degree of need. I deny not that eating and drinking may be, and, in healthful bodies, always is, with pleasure ; because there is in nature no greater pleasure, than that all the appetites, which God hath made, should be satisfied : and a man may choose a morsel, that is pleasant, the less pleasant being rejected as being less useful, less apt to nourish, or more agreeing with an infirm stomach, or when the day is festival by order, or by private joy. In all these cases it is permitted to receive a more free delight, and to design it too, as the less principal: that is, that the chief reason why we choose the more delicious, be the serving that end, for which such refreshments and choices are permitted. But when delight is the only end, and rests itself, and dwells there long, then eating and drinking is not a serving of God, but an inordinate action ; because it is not in the way to that end, whither God directed it. But the choosing of a delicate before a more ordinary dish is to be done, as other human actions are, in which there are no degrees and precise natural limits described, but a latitude is indulged; it must be done moderately, prudently, and according to the accounts of wise, religious, and sober men : and then God, who gave us such variety of creatures, and our choice to use which we will, may receive glory from our temperate use, and thanksgiving ; and we may use them indifferently without scruple, and a making them to become snares to us, either by too licentious and studied use of them, or too restrained and scrupulous fear of using them at all, but in such certain circumstances, in which no man can be sure he is not mistaken.
But temperance in meat and drink is to be estimated by the following measures.
Measures of Temperance in Eating. 1. Eat not before the time, unless necessity, or charity, or any intervening accident, which may make it reasonable and prudent, should happen. Remember it had almost cost Jonathan his life, because he tasted a little honey before the sun went down, contrary to the king's commandment; and although a great need, which he had, excused him from the sin of gluttony, yet it is inexcusable, when thou eatest before the usual time, and thrustest thy hand into the dish unseasonably, out of greediness of the pleasure, and impatience of the delay.
2. Eat not hastily and impatiently, but with such decent and timely action, that your eating be a human act, subject to deliberation and choice, and that you may consider in the eating : whereas he that eats hastily, cannot consider particularly of the circumstances, degrees, and little accidents and chances, that happen in his meal; but may contract many little indecencies, and be suddenly surprised.
3. Eat not delicately, or nicely; that is, be not troublesome to thyself or others in the choice of thy meats, or the delicacy of thy sauces. It was imputed as a sin to the sons of Israel, that they loathed manna and longed for flesh : “ the quails stunk in their nostrils, and the wrath of God fell upon them.” And for the manner of dressing, the sons of Eli were noted of indiscreet curiosity: they would not have the flesh boiled, but raw, that they might roast it with fire. Not that it was a sin to eat it, or desire meat roasted; but that when it was appointed to be boiled, they refused it: which declared an intemperate and a nice palate. It is lawful in all senses to comply with a weak and a nice stomach : but not with a nice and curious palate. When our health requires it, that ought to be provided for : but not so our sensuality and intemperate longings. Whatsoever is set before you, eat; if it be provided for you, you may eat it, be it never so delicate; and be it plain and common, so it be wholesome, and fit for you, it must not be refused upon curiosity : for every degree of that is a degree of intemperance. Happy and innocent were the ages of our forefathers, who ate herbs and parched corn, and drank the pure stream, and broke their fast with nuts and roots >; and when they were permitted flesh, ate it only dressed with hunger and fire; and the first sauce they had was bitter herbs, and sometimes bread dipped in vinegar. But, in this circumstance, moderation is to be reckoned in proportion to the present customs, to the company, to education, and the judgment of honest and wise persons, and the necessities of nature.
4. Eat not too much : load neither thy stomach nor thy understanding. “If thou sit at a bountiful table, be not greedy upon it, and say not there is much meat on it. Remember that a wicked eye is an evil thing: and what is created more wicked than an eye? Therefore, it weepeth upon every occasion. Stretch not thy hand whithersoever it looketh, and thrust it not with him into the dish. A very little is sufficient for a man well nurtured, and he fetcheth not his wind short upon his bed.”
Signs and Effects of Temperance. We shall best know, that we have the grace of temperance by the following signs, which are as so many arguments to engage us also upon its study and practice.
1. A temperate man is modest : greediness is unmannerly and rude. And this is intimated in the advice of the son of Sirach, “When thou sittest amongst many, reach not thy hand out first of all. Leave off first for manners' sake, and be not insatiable, lest thou offend.” 2. Temperance is accompanied with gravity of deportment: greediness is garish, and rejoices loosely at the sight of daintiesa. 3. Sound, but moderate, sleep, is its sign and its effect. Sound sleep cometh of moderate eating; he riseth early, and his wits are with him. 4. A spiritual joy and a devout prayer. 5. A suppressed and seldom anger. 6. A command of our thoughts and passions. 7. A seldom-returning, and a never-prevailing temptation. 8. To which add, that a temperate person is not curious of fancies and deliciousness. He thinks not much, and speaks' not often, of meat and drink; hath a healthful body and long life, unless it be hindered by some other accident: whereas to gluttony, the pain of watching and choler, the pangs of the belly are continual company. And therefore Stratonicus said handsomely concerning the luxury of the Rhodians, “ They built houses, as if they were immortal; but they feasted, as if they meant to live but a little while.” And Antipater, by his reproach of the old glutton Demades, well expressed the baseness of this sin, saying, that Demades, now old 6, and always a glutton, was like a spent sacrifice, nothing left of him but his belly and his tongue, all the man besides is gone.
2 Felix initium, prior ætas contenta dulcibus arvis; .
Facilèque serâ solebat jejunia solvere glande. Boeth. 1. 1. de Consol.
Arbuteos foetus, montanaque fraga legebant.' Ov. M. 1. 104. a Cicero vocat Temperantiam ornatum vitæ, in quo decorum illud et honestum situm est.
Of Drunkenness. But I desire that it be observed, that because intemperance in eating is not so soon perceived by others as immoderate drinking, and the outward visible effects of it are not either so notorious or so ridiculous, therefore gluttony is not of so great disreputation amongst men as drunkenness; yet, according to its degree, it puts on the greatness of the sin before God, and is most strictly to be attended to, lest we be surprised by our security and want of diligence, and the intemperance is alike criminal in both, according as the affections are either to the meat or drink. Gluttony is more uncharitable to the body, and drunkenness to the soul, or the understanding part of man ; and therefore in Scripture is more frequently forbidden and declaimed against than the other : and sobriety hath by use obtained to signify temperance in drinking.
Drunkenness is an immoderate affection and use of drink. That I call immoderate, that is besides or beyond that order of good things, for which God hath given us the use of drink. The ends are, digestion of our meat, cheerfulness and refreshment of our spirits, or any end of health ; besides which if we go, or at any time beyond it, it is inordinate and criminal, it is the vice of drunkenness. It is forbidden by our blessed Saviour in these words. “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness :” surfeiting, that is, the evil effects, the sot
b Plutarch. de cupid. divit.
c Luke xxi. 34.